It’s an ongoing problem: thieves using “skimmer” devices to steal credit and debit card information from unsuspecting customers of local businesses.
Arlington’s Cherrydale neighborhood appears to be the latest target of the skimmer scammers.
Reports a resident:
Maywood listserv lighting up with reports of multiple people getting their credit cards skimmed recently. Most people point to common thread of Liberty Gas station on Lee Highway (and a few other likely places in the area) as common thread. But that is not 100% clear.
In most cases, someone buys gas here. Later someone tries to purchase gas in California. Per Cherrydale listserv earlier, it looks like Arlington Police already found a “skimmer” machine earlier at Exxon across the street, but these are new reports from another potential location.
Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed at least a portion of the neighborhood scuttlebutt.
Here’s what she said via email to ARLnow.com:
Our Financial Crimes Unit received reports of possible credit card skimming at the Liberty Gas station. They responded to the area and during their investigation did not identify a point of compromise at this location. On March 9 at approximately 1:57 p.m., police responded to the Exxon gas station in the 4000 block of Old Dominion Drive for the report of a recovered credit card skimmer. That investigation is ongoing.
These type of cases are typically reported to police as credit card fraud and since we use credit cards for almost all purchases (online, in person, groceries, gas, etc.) the challenge is identifying the point of compromise. Turnaround time from point of compromise to first fraudulent use varies depending on how the suspects intend to use the stolen data. Police work closely with banking institutes who notify us when there is a trend with customers cards being compromised and they identify the location all the cards have in common.
There are some things citizens can do to protect themselves:
- You will not know if a gas pump has a skimmers. In most cases, the skimmers are being placed inside the machine.
- Pay inside at the gas station rather than at the pump.
- Always pay using credit rather than debit – it’s easier to dispute the charges and isn’t linked directly to your bank account.
- If you haven’t switched to a chip reader on your credit card, do so.
- Regularly check your bank statements and if you notice fraudulent activity, notify the bank so they can begin an investigation.
- If you find you were the victim of fraud, file a police report.
Photo via Google Maps
Saved from closure by a new owner, House of Steep on Lee Highway is now in the process of adding new ways for its customers to relax.
The Cherrydale business at 3800 Lee Highway had been set to close late last year, after founder and previous owner Lyndsey DePalma suggested it was not making enough money.
But it was bought by long-time customer Patrick Vaughan and reopened in January, and now Vaughan is looking to bring some new ideas.
The tea house and “foot sanctuary” will soon offer wine to customers, after filing a license application with Virginia ABC. Vaughan said that new innovation could help turn House of Steep into more of a wine bar in the evenings.
“I envision people having a glass of wine while doing a sit and soak essentially, or getting a foot massage,” he said. “The theme of the place is relaxation, so to me I know a lot of people consider a glass of wine at the end of the day the ultimate relaxation.”
Vaughan said he also hopes to expand walk-in availability for House of Steep’s reflexology and massage services. Previously, he said, customers would have to schedule an appointment 24 hours in advance, but Vaughan said he wants to have a system where people can be seen straight away or an hour or two later.
House of Steep’s community outreach is also set to be expanded. Vaughan, a trail and ultra-marathon runner, said he has already partnered with the charity D.C. Capital Striders to host a weekly run from the store. He has other plans too.
“We’ve been proactively inviting community groups to host their meetings in the space or holding wellness seminars or doing open mic nights,” Vaughan said. “We’re definitely trying to create a little bit more of a community environment space for people to use throughout the day and evening.”
The busy and confusing “Five Points Intersection” in Cherrydale is set for an overhaul after the County Board awarded a construction contract Saturday.
Board members unanimously awarded a contract worth just under $1.7 million to A&M Concrete Corporation to improve the streetscape at the intersection of Lee Highway, Military Road, Old Dominion Drive, N. Quincy Street and N. Quebec Street.
The revamped intersection will include upgraded traffic signals, new bike lanes, improvements to crosswalks and transit stops, widened sidewalks and new ADA-accessible curb ramps. It also includes construction of new concrete curbs and gutters, sidewalks, driveways, asphalt pavement and street lighting.
In 2013, the Cherrydale Citizens Association expressed opposition to proposed changes, arguing some aspects created more danger for motorists.
But after some tweaks, the association’s fears appear to have been taken into account. The association’s newsletter expressed hope that the changes would make things better for all road users.
County staff has been exploring improvements at the intersection for several years to improve safety for pedestrians and help simplify some dangerously complicated traffic patterns.
A&M’s original bid of $1.4 million for the contact was the lowest of four submitted. A contingency of $280,000 has been added to take into account any cost overruns.
The Stratford School building in Cherrydale will expand as it transitions to a middle school.
The County Board unanimously approved a plan Saturday to add 40,000 square feet to the school, which currently houses the H-B Woodlawn secondary program. The addition will include a new library, an auxiliary gym, classrooms, science labs and other teaching spaces and a new student common area.
A design for the 1,000-seat middle school was first approved last year by the County Board.
Also in 2016, the County Board designated the school as a local historic district. In 1959, when Stratford was previously a middle school, it was the first Virginia public school to be integrated.
“This plan ensures that Stratford School building, perhaps Arlington’s most significant local historic designation so far, will be preserved — and will be adapted to serve the changing needs of our growing student population,” County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said. “We have to meet our county’s current needs while remembering and honoring the important role Stratford played in 1959, when it became the first public school in the commonwealth to be integrated.”
Ben Bergen, assistant director of design and construction for schools, said Superintendent Patrick Murphy has formed a group to discuss an “interpretive experience” to recognize the school’s history.
The school’s athletic field will be re-graded and rebuilt. Arlington Public Schools staff agreed to try redesigning the field to meet Ultimate Frisbee requirements, as in current plans it is too short for that sport. H-B Woodlawn currently offers an Ultimate Frisbee program for its students.
Bergen said construction should begin early next year, with the major work being done in the summers of 2018 and 2019. H-B Woodlawn students will stay in the building during construction, while the Stratford program will move into temporary buildings.
School Board chairwoman Nancy Van Doren said once finished, the new Stratford School will be a facility everyone can be proud of.
“We broke so many new boundaries with this, and I think we’re going to end up with a fabulous, fabulous project,” she said.
The incident drew a big police response at the Horizons apartments (4300 Old Dominion Drive) around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The maintenance workers reportedly ran away after the gun was drawn and nobody was hurt.
More from an ACPD crime report:
BRANDISHING A FIREARM, 2017-03150073, 4300 block of Old Dominion Drive. At approximately 10:30 a.m. on March 15, officers responded to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that a building’s management notified residents that routine maintenance would be conducted in the building. When two maintenance workers knocked on a male subject’s door, the subject answered while brandishing a firearm and threatening the victims. The victims then fled the scene and contacted police. Gin Chan, 71, of Arlington Va, was arrested and charged with brandishing a firearm.
A fan of Cherrydale’s House of Steep is buying the business to keep it from closing.
Lyndsey DePalma, who founded the tea house and “foot sanctuary”at 3800 Lee Highway, announced last month she planned to close the business and “lovingly serve our last cup of tea” by Dec. 30.
Though the business did close its doors last weekend, it’s only temporary thanks to longtime House of Steep customer and Arlington business owner Patrick Vaughan.
Vaughan, a regular runner of ultramarathons, said he was in the middle of a reflexology and foot massage session when he heard that the store was slated to shutter.
“I was really saddened when I heard it was going to close,” he recalled.
Then, he had an idea: Why not see if he could buy the business to keep it afloat? So, Vaughan called up DePalma, and within just 12 hours, they shook hands on a deal.
“I’ve wanted to get into a health and bodywork kind of business for a long time,” Vaughan said. “It just clicked for me. It just really made sense.”
For DePalma, the sale represents a kind of “fairytale ending.”
“I think he’s willing to take his ideas the distance,” she said. “He seems very passionate to begin with and willing to follow through.”
Although Vaughan said he doesn’t want to change the company’s atmosphere or culture, he does plan to add some new offerings and services to the menu.
“I’d like to be able to get beyond foot massage into full-body massage,” said Vaughan, who also owns a local information technology business. “I’m definitely looking to expand the techniques of massage offerings.”
House of Steep is scheduled to reopen Jan. 9.
Arlington County police officers responded to the 1500 block of N. Quincy Street around 12:30 a.m. after two male suspects reportedly approached three victims who had been walking in the area.
One of the suspects brandished a gun and demanded the victims’ belongings, according to police.
Police say the suspects took off on foot so they brought in an ACPD K-9 unit to track them. Fairfax County Police assisted with the search by sending a helicopter.
The suspects were not apprehended and the investigation is ongoing. From an ACPD crime report:
ARMED ROBBERY, 1500 block of N. Quincy Street. At approximately 12:25 a.m. on December 28, officers responded to the report of an armed robbery. Three victims were walking in the area when they were approached from behind by two male suspects. One of the suspects brandished a firearm and demanded the victims’ belongings. The suspects then fled the scene on foot in an unknown direction. A K9 track and an aerial observation assisted by Fairfax County Police helicopter were negative. The first suspect is described as a black male approximately 6’0″ tall, wearing all black with a black bandana over his face. The second suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’5″ tall, with a slim build. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. The investigation is ongoing.
(Updated at 3 p.m.) Arlington County is moving forward with construction plans for Stratford Park.
The current park has picnic tables, a youth baseball/softball field (which has also been used by adult team sports), two lighted tennis courts, a rectangular field and a lighted basketball court.
The new park, which is in the final design stages and is expected to go out to bid in the first quarter of 2017, will include upgraded fields, courts, landscaping and site furnishings.
Among the planned changes: the new diamond field will be fenced in, with dugouts, batting cages and bleachers added.
While the fence around a soon-to-be-upgraded diamond field in Bluemont Park prompted a neighborhood outcry this fall, since largely resolved by removing portions of the fence, thus far there has been little public protest about the Stratford Park fence.
Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said the field’s primary purpose will be to host organized baseball and softball activities, though other uses will be allowed when the field is not otherwise being used.
“The approved plan does include fence around the diamond field, as the field will primarily be used for diamond sports (permit takes priority),” she told ARLnow.com, via email. “The fence entrances will always be open to allow people access to the area when the field is not in use.”
The parks department sent an email to residents who live near the park last month, updating them on the project’s progress. An excerpt of that email, detailing some of the changes, is below.
Construction of the park upgrades is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2017 and wrap up within the first three months of 2018. The overall design, management and construction budget is $1.7 million.
In early 2015, the County worked with the community to develop a concept plan for the site. The concept plan is a tool to inform the County, APS and the community on how new school access routes and other changes to the school site within the park boundary could impact the plan for park improvements. DPR worked closely with APS in order to coordinate pedestrian accessibility from the park to the school. In addition, a restroom facility will be provided at the school for park users. DPR may make some minor changes to the concept as final costs for the improvements are determined in order to ensure the project remains within budget.
The approved project scope includes replacing and bringing existing features to current standards and adding new amenities to the park. Below is a breakdown of each one.
Existing to be Replaced:
- Tennis Courts
- Basketball Court
- Court Lighting
- Diamond Field
- Players Benches
- Fencing (split rail)
- Stairs and Walkways
- Trash Receptacles
- Trees and Shrubs
New to the Park:
- Drinking Fountain
- Pedestrian Lighting
- Batting Cages
- Outfield Fence
- Retaining Walls
- 50/70 Intermediate (50/70) Diamond Field Layout with Irrigation
- Additional Trash Receptacles and Seating
- Picnic Area
- Storm Water Management Facility
- Additional Landscaping
House of Steep, a tea house and “foot sanctuary” in Cherrydale, is closing after four years in business.
The well-reviewed business, at 3800 Lee Highway, is based around a number of relaxing offerings: loose leaf tea, foot soaks, massages and reflexology.
In an email to customers Friday evening, owner Lyndsey DePalma suggested that the store was not sufficiently profitable to justify remaining in business.
“The rewards are wonderful but unfortunately are not enough,” she wrote. The store is set to close on Friday, Dec. 30.
The full letter is below.
To our beautiful, loyal customers –
A deep, Steep thank you for supporting us over the past four years in our vision to spread peace and offer gentle reminders of health and wholeness to our community. Our mission has been successful and the TEAm is celebrating. The rewards are wonderful but unfortunately are not enough to continue on without innovation, which is more than our team has the capacity to do at this time. So effective December 30, 2016, we will lovingly serve our last cup of tea in our retail space.
Steep is a great company with great reviews and a loyal customer base. It’s quite difficult for small retail businesses to succeed in dynamic markets with growing real estate and workforce costs. A huge thank you for helping us defy significant odds in the start-up world and for taking the time to cheer us on along the way. Thank you for becoming our friends and for stopping in to catch up over a comfortable cup. The business has served many and created so many memories with couples first dates, moms spending cherished time with their children (or without), and so many people pausing to take advantage of the moment. Keep doing this!
A sincere thanks to the staff, as well. I don’t know of a more loved business in this area, and this is all thanks to the staff, especially Michael and his leaders who proudly served the mission and set great examples for the staff.
We wanted to give a month to anyone holding gift cards to be able to redeem for goods and services with ease (our reservation policy for foot massage/reflexology is still required). While we will serve our last cup of tea at the end of the month, a few staff members will continue to serve our wholesale accounts, as well as our online store, so you may continue to source our delicious, health-focused tea blends after we close the storefront. And we’ll continue to serve in the hearts and memories of those who appreciated us for the gentle, loving space we provided for so many years. All good things live on and we believe that to be true of Steep.
We hope you’ll come in for one last foot soak, hug, and/or a cup of healthy goodness to help lift your day. You’ve certainly lifted ours over the years.
Steeped in gratitude,
Lyndsey (and the Steep TEAm)
A French-inspired home and gifts store in Cherrydale is set to close soon.
La Maison, which opened at 3510 Lee Highway in 2013, will close once owner Jeeun Friel sells the business.
The store sells “everything from candles, totes, jewelry, local art, handmade furniture, pins, just a lot of unique one-of-a-kind things,” Friel said. “That’s what’s kept us interesting for the last three years.”
Friel added that her reason for closing the store is to spend more time with her kids, specifically her youngest son.
“I opened the shop originally because, at the time, my firstborn was three years old and entering preschool so I had a lot of time on my hands and it was kind of a hobby,” she said. “It’s bittersweet because I really created this little place from scratch but I’m happy being home with my baby.”
Friel said the shop could close as early September, as long as someone buys it by then.
“I was hoping by September, but it could be longer,” Friel said. “We don’t have a definite date right now. I still have to run the shop and we’re still running on a daily basis until we figure out what’s going to happen.”
The store will hold sales throughout the rest of the summer to sell off the remaining merchandise, Friel said. At the moment, everything in the store is half off.
A car slammed through the front of the 7-Eleven store at 3901 Lee Highway in Cherrydale Friday night.
The crash happened just before 10 p.m. No injuries were reported.
This morning the large plate glass window shattered by the car was boarded up, awaiting replacement.
— John (@JohnVasapoli) July 16, 2016
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 16, 2016
The crash happened around 9:15 a.m. at the intersection of N. Quincy Street and 20th Street N., three blocks south of Lee Highway.
“The pedestrian was conscious and alert on scene and was transported to George Washington University Hospital,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The cause of the accident is currently under investigation.”
A witness described the incident as a “bad accident” between a car and a pedestrian. Scanner traffic suggested the woman suffered a “critical injury.”
“Lots of blood in the bike lane,” the tipster said.
Arlington native Marvin Spencer Binns fought his first fire as a teenager. He liked it, a lot. For the next six decades, he kept plugging away.
“I’m a fireman,” Binns said not too long ago.
On Monday morning, the long-time president of the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department passed away following a lengthy illness. He was 80.
Until the end, Binns kept a two-way radio chattering in his room at The Carlin retirement home near Ballston. When he heard an emergency call originating from the 10-story complex, he would march downstairs to aid the arriving Arlington County Fire Department crews.
“I can’t put the gear on, and my knees are terrible,” Binns allowed, “but I can still go and do things.”
Binns’ remarkably durable volunteer career earned him a unique reputation. Tellingly, in a county where relations between volunteer and career firefighters have not always been harmonious, ACFD Honor Guard members stood watch in early March during a public viewing for Binns’ late wife, Betty.
“There are certain volunteer members over the years who have been accepted into the career family,” noted Capt. Randy Higgins, a career Arlington firefighter at Fire Station 2 who has known Binns for many years. “Marvin was always around, pitching in and helping out.”
Born in Arlington on March 20, 1935, Binns attended Washington-Lee High School and, later, vocational school in Manassas. By the time he was 16 or so, he was starting to hang out at the Cherrydale station, home to the county’s oldest volunteer fire organization.
The two-story, red-brick station dedicated in 1920 held multiple attractions for Binns. Some nights, he would just sit outside while music floated down from the weekly dances held in the upstairs social hall. Binns would also listen to the career and volunteer firemen chewing the fat while awaiting a summons.
Though Arlington County had initiated a career fire department in 1940, volunteers still responded to emergencies, sometimes informally. When he was 16 and still too young to join, Binns drove himself to Rosslyn on the bitterly cold night of Dec. 30, 1951 to pitch in on the fight against a devastating fire at the Murphy & Ames lumber yard.
“I went to a lot of fires,” Binns recalled, “and I wasn’t even a member of the fire department yet.”
When he turned 18, Binns paid $5 and formally joined the Cherrydale department. There was no particular school to attend; the learning was hands-on and experiential. At the training academy, officers would set fire to hay bales or old tires and the men would enter the burn house with only rudimentary protection.
“You couldn’t see a foot in front of you, it was so black,” Binns recalled.
Binns moved into the Cherrydale fire station for a time before he joined the Navy in 1957 and served as a baker aboard the USS Norfolk, a destroyer leader.
It wasn’t always sweetness and light. Tensions sometimes arose between the career guys and volunteers. The volunteer department sometimes struggled financially or administratively; the old fire station, some neighbors occasionally opined, could attract rowdies. Sometime in 1967, Cherrydale historian Kathryn Holt Springston recounted in her history of the Cherrydale department that Arlington officials received complaints that firefighters were whistling at women passing by.
“All were asked to stop such practices,” Springston reported.
Binns could spin a yarn; he had plenty of stories from his decades of service. The way the old siren would wail, summoning volunteers. The winter calls that would leave the firefighters covered in ice. The two dead sisters he helped carry out of the house near Washington Golf and Country Club; some bad, bad car accidents.
The incomparable fellowship.
“I wanted to protect the county,” Binns said; besides, he added, “to me, it was fun. I mean, I enjoyed it. You never knew when you got on the scene what you were going to find. Going down the road, in your mind, you’d be thinking what you were going to run into.”
Binns is survived by five children, 27 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren. A daughter pre-deceased him.
Photo and story by Michael Doyle, who is also a member of the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department. Editor’s note: the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department provides support services for the professional firefighters and EMTs in the Arlington County Fire Department.
The following letter to the editor was submitted by Jane, an Arlington resident who works in Cherrydale.
It is in response to our article on the opening of a pop-up vintage gift shop in the Cherrydale storefront that was once slated to become a gun store.
My coworkers and myself are very disappointed by your coverage of the Pop Vintage store in Cherrydale.
Was it really necessary to drag up all the gun store dirt? All that did was get your regulars stirred up and writing their usual insane comments.
I was there when Olympia, the owner of the store, was reading their responses.
If you could have seen the look on her face when she read what passes for witticisms among the commenters, it would have broken your collective hearts.
Today there is another mass shooting in California.
The world is getting scarier day by day.
Responsible journalism has a responsibility to report the news as it is happening good and bad, I realize this.
And if it hadn’t been for your breaking news on the gun store it might be our neighbor today.
But to to unnecessarily dig up the dirt on days gone by? Did you think Arlington residents wouldn’t be happy to hear of a new fun business without a splash of controversy?
Maybe in the spirit of the season and humanity you could focus on the positive things that are happening around us.
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity.
A long-vacant Cherrydale strip mall storefront, once slated to become a gun store, has been brought to life as a pop-up vintage gift shop.
NOVA Firearms cancelled its lease and its plans to add a location at 2105 N. Pollard Street this summer, following an uproar that pitted concerned residents against both local and national gun enthusiasts.
This holiday season, however, what was once an ideological battleground is now a temporary shop.
POP Vintage opened this past Friday as a vintage shop, featuring collected, donated, estate sale and consigned items, ranging in price from $2 to $20,000. It will be open every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. now until Christmas Eve.
“This is a place where people can sell, barter and trade their items openly and safely, they just have to do it by Christmas,” owner Olympia Hantzopoulos said.
The store is the Rosslyn resident’s first time operating a pop-up. It’s also her first time dealing with a space with such a heated history.
Hantzopoulos said she doesn’t go a day without hearing about what the store could’ve been.
“It was such a difficult issue for both sides,” she said. “Just this Saturday two women got in an argument in the store, which was full of customers, disagreeing over whether this space should be a gun store or not.”
Despite some leftover bitterness from the gun store debate, it hasn’t stopped customers from shopping. Hantzopoulos said her first weekend open was quite busy and the experience has been a positive one so far.
“I’m overwhelmed by the community support,” she said. “I think being here and having something here is doing a lot of good for the neighborhood.”
This also isn’t Hantzopoulos’ first time working with vintage and collectible items. She also owns Miracles in the City, a hair salon in Rosslyn that’s been open for nearly 20 years. The salon also has a small boutique where Hantzopoulos sells vintage jewelry, and all profits from jewelry sales are donated to charity.
She’s adopted the same charitable model for POP Vintage — any proceeds taken in beyond what’s needed to pay the lease will be donated to charities that support women and children in the United States and around the world.
One organization Hantzopoulos plans to support sends donations to an orphanage in Afghanistan, and another provides school supplies for local students. Hantzopoulos said helping in any way she can has always been a priority.
“Thinking about the reality of how little some people have just makes me miserable,” she said. “But you can’t dwell on that, you have to just do what you can do and trust it’s helping.”
From jewelry, to paintings by D.C. artists, to chandeliers, to one-of-a-kind rugs handmade in the Middle East, to tea sets and much more, Hantzopoulos has collected enough items to offer a little bit of everything for holiday shoppers. She knows where they came from, who they belonged to and why, in her opinion, they’re valuable.
“That’s the thing about vintage,” she said. “Everything has a story. It just so happens this space does, too.”